What is it: A game that follows the course of the Cold War as players take on the role of superpowers and fight it for control over the rest of the world while avoiding global thermonuclear war.
Great what does that mean: Players take the side of either the USSR or the US and play out the Cold War over ten turns using cards that represent key events during the time period. The goal is to win the Cold War by influencing other countries and bringing more of the world under your sphere of influence. However there is always the hanging specter of global thermonuclear war, which will end the game and cause the instigator to lose the game.
Scaling: Two players only, you can theoretically add more people as teams but its straight up two players.
Production quality: The board is decent quality although it didn’t take that many plays for some minor wear and tear to show up on it. The cards and influence chips are of good quality. The biggest problem is the reliance of chips to keep track of everything, which can create clutter as well as being somewhat inefficient. Especially when it comes to events, I find it better to leave the card by the board as a reminder.
What’s good: It’s a deep, complex game that is rewarding when you understand it. It engages both players and creates situations that are memorable and rewarding. It also has plenty of historical flavor dripping from it., even if the rulebook giving historical context for the cards is filled with typos.
What’s not good: It’s a deep, complex game that has a rather high barrier to entry. The reason for this being that the game’s complexity is in no small part based upon its internal metagame. Actually understanding how to play this game well is not easy. The game takes 4 hours on average in my experience, with that number including a fair amount of vassal plays means that the number should really be closer to 5 hours probably due to the physical handling of pieces and how automated Vassal is.
Overall: 3/5. This game deserves being ranked no. 1 on Boardgamegeek, but that doesn’t change the fact of it not being easy to actually teach the game to new players or that it takes a long time to actually play. The result is a game that when I want to play is awesome but the time when I don’t want to play it is not insignificant.